Alex Jones' $1 Billion Payout To Sandy Hook Families May Be Far More Than He Can Afford

On December 14, 2012, a gunman by the name of Adam Lanza stormed Sandy Hook Elementary School and shot 26 children and adults. As Britannica says, the incident rocked the nation, becoming one of the worst mass shooting tragedies in the nation's history. Afterward, a rush of proposed gun control legislation cropped up from various politicians and interest groups in hopes of preventing another Sandy Hook, though with little success. In the wake of the shooting, right-wing pundit Alex Jones questioned its legitimacy.

The Infowars founder spent years stoking conspiracy theories that the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax. As AP News says, the families of the Sandy Hook victims eventually filed a defamation suit against Jones for false claims, which eventually forced him to admit to Sandy Hook being real. On October 13, the jury decided in favor of the Sandy Hook families, ordering Jones to pay a staggering $1 billion. But does Jones even have enough money to pay this sum?

A brief summary of the defamation suit payout

As reported now, there are three defamation lawsuits against Jones in regard to his false claims about Sandy Hook. As The Washington Post explains, the $965 million portion of the payout comes directly from the 2018 case that some Sandy Hook parents filed as part of emotional distress. In this instance, Jones had targeted specific families, which the jury concluded was exceedingly harmful. Robbie Parker, a parent of a slain Sandy Hook child, was paid the largest sum of money in the verdict. 

The sum might not even end there. PBS NewsHour reports that the payout could actually increase substantially after punitive damages are taken into consideration. The exact amount has yet to be announced. CNN says that this decision could do significant damage to Jones' website Infowars, potentially capsizing it entirely. This case could have far-reaching implications for the American media landscape. 

Does Alex Jones have the money?

There's one burning question on everyone's mind after the settlement: Can Alex Jones even pay $1 billion? The question has no definitive answer, but it is currently leaning toward a big, bold lettered no. As The Washington Post explains, much of Jones's wealth comes from his digital empire, most notably Infowars. The website had reported profits of $165 million from 2016 to 2018. However, there is no indication any of this money still exists. Either way, it's nowhere near enough to pay the settlement. 

Jones himself said in court on Wednesday that he only had $2 million, though this claim could potentially be quite spurious, as his financial information is mostly secretive. As The Mercury News says, economist Bernard Pettingill Jr. had said that Jones's net worth could possibly be somewhere between $135 million and $270 million. It is very difficult to get any serious confirmation of these numbers for now, as there is little information available. One U.S. attorney, Harry Litman, even argued (via Variety) that Jones will be "broke now for the rest of his life." Either way, it's very likely Jones won't be able to pay the sum and might even face very serious financial repercussions, such as bankruptcy.